Giving Compass' Take:
- Jeff Raikes and Linda Darling-Hammond describe how states find solutions to school funding issues created by inequitable property tax financing.
- How can funders help to shift to alternative education funding strategies that are more equitable?
- Learn more about disparities between states' spending per student.
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There’s an underlying truth to teacher strikes that have happened of late and those looming on the horizon: We live in an era of extreme income inequality and one of the places it’s hitting hardest is in our schools.
What many people don’t realize is that this economic inequity is hard-wired into our school-funding systems. Most of these systems developed over the decades through a process that relied largely on local property tax bases. As a country, we inadvertently instituted a school finance system similar to red-lining in its negative impact. Grow up in a rich neighborhood with a large property tax base? You get well-funded public schools. Grow up in a poor neighborhood? The opposite is true.
The highest-spending districts in the United States spend nearly 10 times more than the lowest-spending, with large differentials both across and within states. In most states, children who live in low-income neighborhoods attend the most under-resourced schools.
Inadequate school funding derails the future for students already struggling against the odds—intensifying disparities that harm society as a whole by reducing young people’s capacity to contribute to society. When we provide adequate funding for resources such as well-prepared teachers and school leaders, smaller class sizes (especially in the early years), and extended learning time, we see returns in the form of improved student outcomes.
With economic segregation in the United States worsening, it is imperative that states and districts find new, equitable approaches to school funding. In a new report from the Learning Policy Institute, author David Hinojosa explains how creating equitable and adequate school finance systems is a "challenging but achievable task." And he’s right. Many countries, and some U.S. jurisdictions, have succeeded in funding high-quality education for all their students. Not surprisingly, these jurisdictions are among the highest achieving in the world.
Here in the United States, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey are among those that have implemented promising reforms. The reforms all feature three key practices: funding underserved students at higher levels, investing in educator capacity and equitable distribution, and ensuring access to quality preschool.
Read the full article about fixing education funding by Jeff Raikes and Linda Darling-Hammond at Learning Policy Institute.